cover image Powder Necklace

Powder Necklace

Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, . . Washington Square, $15 (280pp) ISBN 978-1-4391-2610-3

When her single mother “needs a break,” London teenager Lila is sent to school in Ghana. Once at Dadaba Girls' Secondary School, Lila finds herself fending for a place among an unforgiving physical and emotional climate. Just as Lila is learning to appreciate the unusual joys of her new home, however, Lila's mother, having found a new boyfriend and a new home, yanks her back to London. Though Lila gets back to school, lands a job, and finds a boyfriend, she's once again shipped off, this time to live with her father in New York. Brew-Hammond uses sensual language to drop readers into each of Lila's strange new settings, crafting vivid portraits of dislocation and discovery. Though the evangelical undertones may turn off some readers and Lila's mom's issues (her aggression, her refusal to let Lila make any decisions for herself) are left largely unaddressed, the beauty of the prose and the resilience of the heroine make this a winning debut. (Apr.)